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Jays' Smith wins third weekly award of 2018

Toronto prospect continues breakout season with first FSL honor
Kevin Smith has a .593 slugging percentage between Class A Lansing and Class A Advanced Dunedin this year. (Joshua Tjiong/
July 2, 2018

Kevin Smith has been here before, and based on the way things are going, it might be a safe bet he'll be back again. The Blue Jays' No. 18 prospect has been named Florida State League Offensive Player of the Week after going 12-for-29 (.414) with a homer, triple, three

Kevin Smith has been here before, and based on the way things are going, it might be a safe bet he'll be back again.

The Blue Jays' No. 18 prospect has been named Florida State League Offensive Player of the Week after going 12-for-29 (.414) with a homer, triple, three doubles and two stolen bases over six games from June 25 to July 1 for Class A Advanced Dunedin. It's the third time Smith has been named a Player of the Week this season -- he won the Class A Midwest League honor on April 30 and May 13 -- and the fourth time in his career.

The shortstop, who turns 22 on Wednesday, had at least one hit in each of his six games with Dunedin last week and had multiple knocks in five of those contests. His home run Sunday was his sixth over 28 games with the Class A Advanced affiliate, breaking up a stretch of eight games without a long ball for the right-handed slugger.

View the Pitcher of the Week winners »

Toronto took Smith in the fourth round of the 2017 Draft after he hit .268/.323/.552 with 13 homers as a junior at the University of Maryland. He carried that power tool to the pros with Rookie-level Bluefield, where he went deep eight times in 61 games after signing. But after hitting .271 with a 24.7 percent strikeout rate in the Appalachian League, Smith knew he'd have to improve his overall offensive game if he was to climb the ladder quickly.

"I've always been a big self-analyzer," Smith said, "and one of the things I thought I'd need to do was get my swing to be quicker. I was missing a lot of fastballs last year, and I knew it was going to be an even bigger velocity jump from the Big Ten to the pros. If I could get my swing quicker, I'd give myself a little more time to make good contact. So after last year and into the offseason, I did some work with our hitting coordinator [Guillermo Martinez] to stay quick and efficient and do a better job of using my lower half to make that happen. That started last year going into instructs and carried over into Spring Training, and you're seeing some of the results now."

It didn't take long for Smith to show those results at his opening assignment with Lansing. When he was promoted to Dunedin on May 28, he was hitting .355/.407/.639 with seven homers, four triples and 23 doubles through 46 games with the Lugnuts. His 34 extra-base hits are still tied for fifth among Class A batters, despite the fact that he's been away for more than a month, and his 184 wRC+ is the best among hitters with 200 plate appearances at the level this season.

After some initial hiccups with Dunedin, Smith is hitting .311/.371/.521 with six homers, a triple and five doubles in 28 FSL games. With his homer Sunday, he's already closing in on his total from Lansing, despite the fact that he's played 18 fewer games with Dunedin. His 152 wRC+ ranks sixth among the 115 hitters with at least 130 plate appearances in the FSL this season.

"I always hope to adjust on the fly," he said. "You're always training for the level you're at, obviously, but I also want to be the best player I can be right now. I want to be able to play against the best guys in the country, and I take that into my preparation. I think that's helped because it doesn't change."

Combine his production between his two spots, and it's clear that Smith hasn't just been one of the best hitters in both leagues; he's been one of the Minors' best hitters, period. His 46 extra-base hits are most among all Minor Leaguers, a category typically dominated by players from the California or Pacific Coast Leagues. His .986 OPS ranks 14th among all full-season Minor Leaguers. Only Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (1.124) has a higher OPS in the Jays' system this year.

If his breakout continues, Smith could find himself even higher up prospect-ranking lists and further up the Blue Jays' chain of affiliates in the second half of the 2018. But the shortstop hasn't allowed himself to let that sink in yet.

"No, not really, that's not what I've thought anything about," Smith said. "I'm still going into each game thinking about what I'm still working on. I'm trying to take things day by day. How can I be a better player tomorrow? What I can do differently to make that happen? That's all I'm thinking about right now."

Below is the complete list of Minor League Offensive Player of the Week winners for June 25-July 1 (except Southern League, which is June 21-July 1):

League Player Team MLB Stats
International Francisco Mejia Columbus CLE .593/.645/.926, 7 G, 16-for-27, 6 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 8 R, 4 BB, 1 IBB, 2 K
Pacific Coast Kevin Cron Reno ARI .462/.483/1.115, 6 G, 12-for-26, 2 2B, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 9 R, 2 BB, 5 K
Eastern Abiatal Avelino Trenton NYY .524/.577/.857, 6 G, 11-for-21, 1 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 8 R, 4 BB, 2 K, 2 SB
Southern Taylor Sparks Pensacola CIN .423/.500/.885, 9 G, 11-for-26, 2 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 7 R, 4 BB, 2 K, 2 SB
Texas Chris Chinea Springfield STL .467/.500/1.067, 4 G, 7-for-15, 0 2B, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 4 R, 1 BB, 1 K
California Jordan Zimmerman Inland Empire LAA .423/.448/.846, 7 G, 11-for-26, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 8 R, 2 BB, 7 K
Carolina Osvaldo Duarte Buies Creek HOU .464/.464/.929, 7 G, 13-for-28, 3 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 9 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 2 SB, 1 CS
Florida State Kevin Smith Dunedin TOR .414/.433/.690, 6 G, 12-for-29, 3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 5 R, 1 BB, 6 K, 2 SB
Midwest Ernie De La Trinidad Kane County ARI .435/.481/.870, 6 G, 10-for-23, 1 2B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 8 R, 3 BB, 2 K
South Atlantic Rodolfo Duran Lakewood PHI .643/.737/1.357, 5 G, 9-for-14, 1 2B, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 5 R, 5 BB, 1 K
New York-Penn Chris Betts Hudson Valley TB .471/.609/.882, 5 G, 8-for-17, 1 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 5 R, 6 BB, 3 K
Northwest Curtis Terry Spokane TEX .333/.360/.917, 6 G, 8-for-24, 2 2B, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 4 R, 0 BB, 5 K
Appalachian Jonah Davis Bristol PIT .542/.560/1.250, 5 G, 13-for-24, 6 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 9 R, 0 BB, 5 K
Pioneer Grant Lavigne Grand Junction COL .400/.483/.840, 6 G, 10-for-25, 2 2B, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 4 R, 3 BB, 3 K, 1 SB, 1 CS

Sam Dykstra is a reporter for Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @SamDykstraMiLB.